The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council invested $30,000 in an educational award-winning urban/rural cultural exchange program that brings farmers and other natural resource professionals into the classrooms across the country.
"We are excited to be adding Provider Pals to our long list of educational programming because it will help students, educators and their families make the connection between farmers and the safe, abundant food we all enjoy," says Ron Obermoller, MSR&PC's Education Committee chair and soybean farmer from Brewster. "We also hope it reminds the next generation that agriculture is a noble profession, providing many career opportunities."
One of the main elements of the Provider Pals program is to facilitate classroom 'adoptions' of rural resource workers in the fields of farming, ranching, mining, logging and fishing. This year's Minnesota adoptions took place at Centennial Middle School in Lino Lakes, Humboldt Junior High School in St. Paul, Red Rock Central High School in Lamberton, and the Lake Nokomis and Susan B. Anthony Middle schools in Minneapolis.
Each of these schools adopted one or two people from a natural resource profession and hosted them at the school for a day. Brad Hovel of Cannon Falls, Kevin Estrem of Nerstrand, and Bill Gordon and Matt Widboom of Worthington were four of the nine "adopted farmers." A Montana rancher, North Carolina commercial fisherman and a Montana wild lands firefighter also participated.
Bruce Vincent, executive director of Provider Pals and a Montana logger, was thrilled to bring the program to Minnesota. "Minnesota is vast in natural resource professions and cultures, so this program is a natural fit," Vincent says. "We are proud to be working in partnership with MSR&PC and Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, and look forward to helping bring natural resource education and career awareness to Minnesota students."